Today, the feast of Pentecost means many things. Whatever form it takes or however we experience the work of the Spirit in our own lives, we can be confident that we are never without the presence of God.
Today’s Gospel shows us that even in those difficult times, there is always hope. The peace that Jesus gives has a much more significant meaning than we might first think. It is not simply a good wish. The peace that Jesus offers, is a peace that the world cannot offer. It is a peace that comes from a loving relationship with God, a peace of body, of mind and spirit.
Don’t be put off by others – some people are so spiritless that, had they been present at the first Pentecost, they would have come to the scene with a fire extinguisher. To help make all things new, Jesus has given the Church the authority to forgive sins as he did. We can show our gratitude for these gifts by not hiding them in the attics of our lives, but by using them.
What is unique about Pentecost, says Pope St Leo, is not the gift of the Holy Spirit but the extent of the gift. Now the Holy Spirit is given not just to kings and prophets but to every Christian. We should try to appreciate this great interior gift, planted in our soul by the risen Lord.
Whatever happens in our life, whatever roads we may travel, the Holy Spirit is present as conscience, as repentance, as a way back, as an inner moral compass, as an urge to pray, as the desire to forgive, as a concern for someone who has experienced tragedy, as outrage against injustice, as direction for the future.
The Holy Spirit is present not just in tongues of fire or in extraordinary charismatic gifts. We terribly underestimate the power of the Holy Spirit if we limit the Spirit’s presence only to extraordinary gifts.
Far more important are the ordinary gifts of the Holy Spirit catalogued by St Paul in today’s second reading. When we try to understand others, when we try to unite rather than divide, when we show courage in not only proclaiming but living the Gospel, when we open our hearts in prayer, when we make wise choices, when we are faithful to our vows and promises, when we appreciate the majesty of God’s presence. These are the powerful, everyday gifts of the Holy Spirit which are like sunlight to the soul.
Pentecost means God is not remote; The Holy Spirit is our personal link to what counts, our link to what is right, our personal link to God. The Holy Spirit is Christ’s Easter gift to the Church and to each one of us.